Tag Archives: connection

Thinking about joining my upcoming Mindfulness Skills for Parenting Workshop in Tokyo? Wondering how you might put the skills you gain to use?

Here are a few highlights of how becoming more mindful has made a difference in my life with kids.

Top 10 Mindfulness-Saved-Me Moments in Parenting

  1. When shopping for 2 hours in the same store while trying to breast feed, change diapers and keep my 3 month old from crying.
  2. While straddling my kicking and screaming toddler so that I could brush his teeth.
  3. When sitting in a chair rocking and rocking and rocking for hours hoping the baby would fall asleep.
  4. When they have a really bad day. When I have a really bad day.
  5. When my child says, “Let’s run!” “Let’s race!” “Let’s play cars!” for the one hundredth time that day.
  6. When my child says, “You’re my favorite person in the world mommy. Will you be with me forever?”
  7. When my son almost died in a foreign country.
  8. When my husband doesn’t do it the “right” way…or when I don’t.
  9. When they say, “I wish we just stayed in one place,” and when they say, “I hope we do this forever.”
  10. When the Internet tells me something I do (or do not) need to know about raising children…always.

Click on the link at top to register today! Also be sure to check out this free download of my chapter on mindfulness and parenting from Raising Kids in the Foreign Service.

 

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Yesterday I hosted a Global Entrepreneurship Week Women’s Networking Coffee. These Pop-Up  GEW Events are supported by the Mumpreneur’s Networking Club of the UK.

It was an incredible honor and a true pleasure to host 10 fabulous women in my home. Over coffee and cookies we supported each other, strategized and came together in the spirit of community.

The experience was remarkable for the wide range of offerings brought by the participants. While each individual represented different stages in the entrepreneurial process, the unique contributions of each participant created a deep sense of intellectual and creative movement. You could feel it in the room. It was inspiring! I was reminded, as I often am when sharing in conversation with smart, talented, thoughtful women, how affirming it is to connect in this way with others.

I feel confident that connections were made, projects inspired, meetings planned and inspirations sparked! I cannot wait to hear more about where these women go from here.

And, I am excited to share a little about each of them with you. All of the women are currently living in Tokyo, but many are open to working with people outside Tokyo and Japan.

Be sure to check out all they’re up to! Get in touch if you see someone you know would be a good collaborator, teacher, mentor or friend! And of course - don't forget to check out their services and products!

Nathalie Lim – A photographer. Website and Facebook.

Jennifer Shinkai –A facilitator and coach who helps people to create and communicate change in their professional lives. Jennifer also runs the Lean In Japan Creating Change Chapter and much of her work focuses on developing female leaders in Japan. Website, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Amanda Chehrezad – The creator of Finding Fair – a website bringing together thinkers looking at the question, “What is fair?”

Bridgette Clark - A business development professional and consultant. Find her on LinkedIn here.

Stephanie Corrigan – A Beauty Counter independent distributor. Website and Facebook.

Raquel Maia – A health coach and trainer. Website.

Eva Sol – painter and artist. Website.

Melanie Uematsu – Founder of Sewing Circle in Tokyo and fashion designer. Website.

Ann-Katrin Van schie – Yoga instructor and blogger at At Ease and More. She focuses on helping expats overcome the challenges of a nomadic lifestyle so that they may feel "at ease" again. Website and Facebook.

Angela Stewart – artist, designer and seamstress. More contact info coming soon.

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curiosity

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about curiosity.

We're born to explore and question and discover. In fact, it's through curiosity, along with a healthy dose of trial and error, that we become the people we are.

Unfortunately, we all get a bit freaked out by the trial and error part. Curiosity is awesome until we realize it can get us in trouble. Curiosity killed the cat.

And so, with time and the ups and downs of life we start to silence our curiosity. We fear what we will find on the other side if we question what we see before us. Who are we if we really examine how we feel about ourselves, if we analyze the judgments we make about others and if we peel away the layers of the world around us to reveal what’s underneath? We don’t like it. It scares us.

True curiosity requires the ability to be shocked, saddened, found wrong, and dismayed. It also means you’re ready to be forgiving, dedicated, thoughtful and kind.

Curiosity settles once and for all that life is not this or that, but rather that…and maybe that too…and also that. Curiosity says – I’ll take all that! Sign me up! Join me?

It shows us the awe-inspiring nature of the given moment.

It reminds us we're one of many, while providing the gift of bringing us together.

Curiosity means more reading, more talking, more connecting, more watching, more thinking, more feeling, more wandering. More growing.

Curiosity takes guts, but you’ve got them. I just know it.

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Think about all the times you had something you wanted to share and you held back. It could have been that small, but big-to-you victory. Maybe it was the bad day at work that came out of nowhere. Maybe it was the time you felt overwhelmed, lost, rejected…or completely thrilled with the path before you.

We do that, don’t we? Keep things in when we know they’d be so much better shared with and supported by someone else.

One of the biggest benefits of growing into the person you want to be, is accepting that talking it out with a friend is always, always one of the best places you can go to make sense of whatever it is you’re facing.

Talking out our troubles with friends doesn’t always erase our pain or free us from our challenges, but it gives us a completely new lens from which to see what’s there before us.

Sometimes this is harder for people who move around a lot. But, it doesn’t have to be. Deeper connection comes from taking the leap to share with others. As expats we’re often forced to dive into relationships very quickly. Rather than worrying about who we will scare off, I think we benefit from focusing on who we’ll grow closer to.

But there is no doubt it can be difficult. Even when we know the benefits of fully and honestly connecting, the hesitation we feel about reaching out and the old belief that we shouldn’t bother people with our problems (or brag about our successes) can be hard to overcome.

It occurs to me that sometimes all we need is the very first step and when it comes to talking it out with our friends – the very first step involves…well…talking.

It can be as simple as saying (or texting):

“Are you free to talk?”

“I’m celebrating! Join me for a drink?”

“Have a minute?”

“I could use an ear, are you free?”

“I’d love to bounce something off you, can I give you a call?”

“Are you free for coffee? I could really use a friend to talk to?”

“I don’t want to feel like I’m unloading on you, but I could really use someone to talk to. Are you free?”

Yes – that is actually just a list of words to get you started. It's totally something you could have come up with on your own. But – it is both not-rocket-science and totally overwhelming at times. Having that list up there is my way of reminding you that you already have the tools...you just gotta' use them. If you’ve been struggling to connect – take a minute to imagine what would happen if you committed to using one (just one) of these in the next few days.

Write down your favorite phrase. Use the ones above to plan out your own words to get you started. Practice in the mirror if you have to.

And then, whether it’s a major accomplishment or a tiny, little, barely-there frustration – go ahead and reach out.

You won't regret it!

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Every year around this time I reflect on the big leap I took to start my own business.

Now three years in, I reflect on how freakin’ scary it was! How even making my first professional Facebook post felt like I was inviting all of my worst fears to come and take up residence in my daily life.

What if I fail?

What if no one takes me seriously?

What if I’m not good enough? Kind enough? Smart enough? Savvy enough?

What if I don't like this thing at all?

Well, if there’s anything that working with coaching clients for 3 years will teach you it’s that those thoughts are normal, you’re not alone and when it’s all said and done, each and every one of us is capable of coming out the other side of fear stronger than when we entered.

This World Tree Coaching anniversary moment is made all the more poignant in that this week I will also reach my own birthday milestone – the big 4-0! FORTY!

I remember the 40th birthday parties of my parents’ generation always included fake gravestones and black streamers. Thank god we’re not in that place anymore! Times have changed! I think forty seems pretty awesome.

I love my work as a coach and writer. I adore with every part of my soul sitting down and supporting someone as they walk through fear and come out the other side. I love the challenge of it all and feel stretched every day to be a better coach and to tap into my strengths and confront professional challenges. I can’t claim the hard parts are easy…but I do love them!

And I also love how this work forces me to get comfortable with all the many ways we feel. The losses, challenges and passions of my clients remind me of those places in my own life. My coaching work is about my clients, but I feel like it’s a jackpot of incredible luck that I get to learn along with them.

This year – above all else – I will be celebrating! Come do that with me!

In celebration of these milestones, I am offering 5 special coaching spots at a fantastic reduced rate.

Why 5? Because that’s the space I have and I like the number.

Why the reduced rate? This is totally the social worker in me. It probably means I’m not the world’s most savvy business owner, but I love sharing things. I’m not kidding. I LOVE sharing! So, while I can’t give things away for free (all the time)…I can share the shit out of my services. My financial planner probably thinks I’m crazy.

Okay, so maybe you think you might be one of the five and maybe the price seems right, but you're still asking - Why life coaching?

Here are my favorite things about life coaching:

Life coaching is about helping you find your strengths and use them.

Life coaching helps you get to know yourself better and cut through that annoying voice in your head that tells you things that aren’t true…or tune in to the voice that totally nails the truth every time.

Life coaching supports you in the practice of living in balance between the heart and head.

Life coaching helps you learn to say yes and no better.

Life coaching is both challenging and fun…it’s like a marathon without the sweat, chafing or lost toenails.

Life coaching gives you a personal cheerleader (That’s me!) to nudge you into really living because, seriously, you are not getting any younger!

Sound good?

Here’s who I’m looking for:

I’m looking for those people who’ve thought about coaching and thought about coaching, but just don’t quite send the email.

I’m speaking to those of you who are super curious about the changes you want to make, but also feel scared about what you might find on the other end. Hint: Being scared is okay and there’s really no reason to do it alone.

I’m looking for those of you who just feel really, really ready to grow, to learn and to have someone (finally!) listen.

And I’m looking for those of you who feel all over the place and who regularly ask yourself, “What the hell am I doing!?”

Just 5 spots. Details here.

See you soon!

What Are Your Words to Live By-

For almost two years now I have been toying with the idea of taking my Mantra Builder groups virtual. I already see most of my clients virtually - either by Skype, FaceTime or through good old fashioned phone calls. However, trying to figure out the logistics for a virtual group seemed a bit more challenging.

Of course, it shouldn't because it's just a group conference call. Right?! My concerns have been the garden variety worries that the connection would be poor, the nuance and energy that exits in a face-to-face group would be missing...and really, just the ordinary long list of doubts that creep in when you're thinking of doing something new.

Well- enough of that! I'm gonna' do it! I LOVE the idea of doing this group with people who are in different countries. Actually, I always love doing this group, but I am even more excited about the possibility of bringing people together across the miles.

And that's where you come in. If you've landed on this blog post it's likely because you saw this announcement on social media. You're feeling curious and ready to learn more about yourself, improve decision making, answer the question "What am I doing?!" and (finally!) create a sense of home no matter where you are. You might also like that I said that you can get this for a super steep discount.

Here are the things you need to know:

  • The group meets for 3 sessions. You can learn more about my Mantra Builder Groups here and read reviews here.
  • There are 4 2 spots open.
  • Technically Speaking: The sessions will (likely) take place over Google Hangouts - I've found that connection works better than Skype most of the time. You'll need pretty good internet access. We will probably do a test login a week in advance. You'll need about 5 minutes for that.
  • Schedule: Tuesday, October 25; Wednesday, November 2; Wednesday, November 9. All meetings begin at 8:00PM Tokyo time on the days above. The sessions are 75 minutes.
  • The dates and times for the group are in Tokyo time. Please check your time zone to see if these will work for you.
  • The regular fee for my Mantra Builder Groups is $150 per person. Since I'm testing out the group in virtual format - this very first Mantra Builder Virtual is only $50 for the whole series!
  • REGISTER HERE.

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Traditions for Transfer

I recently came across a letter I wrote to myself in January 2000. It’s sealed. I haven’t opened it and I’m not sure when I will. The idea of writing letters to myself has long had this sort of mysterious appeal to me. I think it lies in the idea that there’s a gift in finding a way to be your own personal cheerleader months or even years later.

This summer we will move for the 8th time in 7 years. This move will just be from Yokohama to Tokyo, but the difference of 15 miles will bring a lot of changes – new neighborhood, new friends, new schools for the kids, a new job for my husband, new grocery stores and post offices, restaurants and doctors’ offices. A lot will stay the same, but many more things will be different.

It makes me wonder if perhaps I should be writing a letter to myself each time I move. It might be something new to add to the things we already do. I think it might be nice to have a letter I write before I move that I could then open up and read before the next move. I love the idea of rituals around moving and traditions that individuals and families create to ease the transitions.

There are so many wonderful, insight-building and compassionate ways to ritualize a move and to make transitions smoother. I’ve come across so many of these activities over the years. I’m seriously considering adding the letter to myself to the list.

Are you facing an international move? Is this your first or one of many? Have you ever used a ritual or tradition to make your move feel more easeful?

Here are a few of my favorites:

1. (New one!) Write a letter to yourself. Include your thoughts and feelings, your expectations and worries. Seal it. Hold onto it and read it just before your next move.

2. Create a space box. This is a personal one that my husband and I started when we were first dating back in 1998. We still use it to this day and I’ve included it in my book. Read the details here.

3. Inspire conversation. This one came from a recent discussion on a Facebook group I belong to. Place large pieces of paper on the walls around your dining room (or some place else that your family regularly gathers together). Write the following headings one per paper on each of the papers – Things we will miss. Things we won’t miss. Things that will stay the same. Things we are looking forward to. Each night at dinner, invite family members to talk about the different categories and add things to the various lists.

4. Say "thank you." Purchase (or make) small, simple thank you gifts for the people who’ve made your home away from home feel like home. I especially like this for “community helpers” – the people who you don’t know well, but who always lend a hand, a smile or infinite patience when you’re out and about and trying your best to make a go of your life overseas.

5. Make an Instagram wall collage. This is one I really love. When we were temporarily back home a couple of years ago I took photos of my favorite places around my hometown. It now serves as a collage in our entryway. People often comment on it and I like getting the chance to brag about my hometown a bit. I think it could also be a great way to remember your favorite places from one of your other “homes.”

6. Create a soundtrack of your time in your adopted home. Like many people, our family is very much inspired by the music that makes up a particular time and place in which we’ve lived. We love hearing songs that remind us of the different phases of our life. This activity is especially fun if you live somewhere with music that’s quite different than what you’re used to in your home country.

These are just a few of the many options for ritualizing transition. You might also try Googling to find some other ideas or ask your other expat friends.

Also, be sure to check out my book – The Expat Activity Book. All 20 exercises are relevant to almost every phase of transition.

I'd love to hear your ideas and share them with other blog readers. Leave me a comment below with some of your favorite transition traditions.

Seychelles Mama

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American Thanksgiving is on our doorstep! I am not ashamed to say how much I love the ritual of food and family and friends and taking a moment to say thank you for what the year has brought.

I love the harvest imagery and the chill of the impending winter. I love the fact that really all you have to do is eat and say thank you…whatever that looks like to you.

I find that even in difficult times and at the end of really hard years, the ritual of Thanksgiving has become for me a way to slow down and truly take time to count my blessings.

I also love the opportunity it gives to reflect on the traditions and ritual of expressing gratitude and what it means for our physical, emotional and spiritual health.

I recently read this really nice article in the New York Times. The author highlights the importance of expressing gratitude as a way to feel more connected to the people, places and situations you encounter. He stresses that this isn’t about false happiness, but rather recognizing the things for which you feel grateful even during the times when you feel sad, lonely, lost or broken. It may be easier said than done for some, but he sites some interesting research on the point.

I imagine this is a bit like looking at people who see the glass-half-full versus those who tend to view it as half-empty. We all face difficult times (some of us face unimaginable difficulty and tragedy), but it is true that some people seem more capable, or at least more skillful, at recognizing the things for which they can be thankful regardless of their situation.

But what about those times when you’re not feeling grateful? Is it possible to learn to practice gratitude, to get better at saying thank you? And, if you do, what does that mean for your life? This article is a great starting point for understanding the science behind gratitude and the effects it can have on your life. But sometimes, I think, it's just good to start at the beginning and simply start saying (or showing) thanks.

I love finding new and creative ways to show gratitude and appreciation. There are tons of fun ideas out here. To get you started in your own journey, check out my favorites below. Do you use any of these? What are your favorite ways to say thanks? Then, scroll down for links to even more creative and inspiring ways to bring a little more gratitude and thanksgiving into your every day life.

My Favorite Ways to Say Thanks:

  • Say thank you for the small stuff. We all have our every day responsibilities – taking out the trash, preparing dinner, loading the dishwasher, paying the bills. But just because these things are requirements doesn’t mean we can’t say thank you to the people in our lives who take care of them (or that we wouldn’t appreciate a thank you in return). Make it habit to say thank you daily to your kids, your spouse or partner, your work colleagues, your barista, you waitress…
  • Keep a mental list of your friends’ favorite things. The best gifts are rarely big and expensive – they are simple, thoughtful and spot-on. Gift-giving is a classic way to express gratitude, but when we really notice others we are able to say thank you with a token of our appreciation that is more than just a check box. So, make mental list or write down things you want to remember. When it’s time to say thank you, you’ll know just the small, but perfect way to do it.
  • Put it in writing. I am a huge fan of sending a card, but there’s nothing wrong with an email, a Facebook message or a text. Set aside time regularly to send thank you notes even for the smallest things – including a simple message to say, “Thank you for being you.”
  • Create traditions with your friends and family. We think of traditions often during holidays, but the truth is traditions can be a part of our lives at any time of year. When we work together with our loved ones to do things that are important to each of us we send the message, through effort, pre-planning and remembering, that the people around us matter and that we’re grateful for the role they play in our lives.
  • Share stories and ask questions. Showing interest in the experiences of the people in your life demonstrates that you value and appreciate their presence and that you’re willing to invest in cultivating a deeper relationship. Here’s a great list to get your started on this one!

These are my favorites, but there’s no need to stop there! Check out other awesome (and super creative) ways to say thank you here, here and here.

10 Best Habits of Socially Adaptable Expats (2)

Whenever we transition to a new place I find myself continually amazed at how adaptable to new social situations the typical expat is. I’m certain that not everyone is an extrovert or 100% comfortable in large groups or even small coffees, but I do see people, repeatedly, stretching the limits of their comfort zones in an effort to make new friends.

I think most people, especially those for whom this extroversion doesn’t come naturally, have to practice at it. Most of us probably start out completely overwhelmed, but little by little we learn what works for us and we find ways to meet and greet and form friendships in ways that we wouldn’t have done if we’d never left the comforts of our home countries.

But what is it that makes someone easy to get to know? Why is it that some people seem to move so seamlessly into conversations with others? What skills do the most adaptable expats employ in conversations with new people that solidify their chances of turning a casual conversation into a lasting relationship?

In my experience, the most adaptable expats approach new relationships with a combination of the following 10 skills. Which ones do you use? Which ones do you think you’re ready to add to your personal tool kit?

  1. Make a habit of being curious about other people. There’s nothing quite like knowing that other people are interested in what makes you tick. When you ask people about themselves, it’s a compliment. So while you’ll have plenty of opportunities to tell your story, make sure to take time to get the scoop on someone else’s journey as well.
  1. Be self-deprecating. Moving is hard. Transitioning from place to place can leave us feeling overwhelmed, scattered, lost and alone. Even the most skilled expats struggle from time to time. Being able to admit your faults, failures and discomforts shows your potential friends that you’re human and that makes you more approachable.
  1. Be honest, but tactful. When you’re meeting new people, they are trying to feel you out, get to know you and understand what you’re all about. And, of course, you’re doing the same to them. It’s normal that you will have some interests that overlap and others that differ. There’s no need to pretend you like or are interested in something that you’re not. So, be honest…but remember, be mindful of making your differing perspective seem like a criticism of your new friend’s preferences.
  1. Think of the other person’s feelings. It comes quite naturally to most of us to ask people about the practical aspects of their lives – When did you arrive? What type of work do you do? Do you have children? However, many of us struggle with the more personal questions we need to ask in order to build relationships. How are you hanging in? Are you missing home? Are you feeling stressed? People who develop the skills necessary to comfortably ask more personal questions are laying the groundwork for stronger and deeper friendships.
  1. Say something complimentary. You are going to meet people with whom you have very little in common, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be nice. When you meet someone, be on the look out for the things that impress you about that person. Make sure to share your impressions with the people you’re getting to know. Everyone likes to know they’ve been noticed and sharing your positive impressions helps people recognize that they’ve truly been seen.
  1. Follow-up. This can be one of the most challenging aspects of the transition process. We meet so many people in the first few weeks we’re in a new place. Countless times we say things like, “We should get together,” or “Let’s grab coffee sometime.” Expats don’t have the luxury of letting these invitations go. So, if someone strikes you as being an ideal new friend – take a couple of minutes to email, call or text him or her. Don’t let the opportunity to deepen your relationship pass you by.
  1. Say “yes,” to invitations or offer alternatives. Try to say yes to as much as you can – especially in the first few weeks. Of course, it’s incredibly important to make sure you allow plenty of alone time to adjust at your own pace, but saying yes to outings or activities once or twice a week can be a great chance to strengthen new relationships. If you’re genuinely not interested in the activity (like, say, scuba diving), suggest an alternative (“Hey! I’ll happily sit on the boat and drink beer while you dive in that shark infested water!”).
  1. Branch out from “Where are you from?” and “What do you do?” Challenge yourself to come up with new and creative questions that will stand out and make your interaction memorable. Jot them down somewhere, commit them to memory and be prepared to practice them in new social settings.
  1. Use social media to find like-minded individuals. I think one of the most exciting changes to living as an expat, has been social media. When I studied abroad for the first time in 1997, there was no Internet, no Facebook and no Twitter. Now you can get to know people even before you arrive in a new country! It’s a great way to start to put a face to your name and begin the process of seeing whom you might connect with once you get where you’re going.
  1. Know yourself and be confident in what you have to offer in a friendship. I saved the best for last! This is the most important one. People who really know themselves and who are confident about who they are, are easier to trust, easier to get to know and usually easier to be around. Make a habit of personal reflection. If this is a struggle for you – seek the support of a coach, read self-help books that can help you learn the skills you need, practice journaling or talk with friends and family who know you best and who can help you in learning more about yourself.

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